Vietnam 101: The ultimate guide

Nicola Marshall, Intrepid Travel’s Destination Manager for Vietnam, whisks you away – in blog form – to the sublime Southeast Asian spot.

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Location: Ha Long Bay, image provided by Intrepid Travel

Something for everyone

I love the variety of Vietnam: whatever you’re into, you won’t be disappointed! There are mountains, beaches, cities, and villages. You can get around by train, motorbike, cyclo, bicycle, or boat.

The history is fascinating, it won’t break your bank balance, and the food is incredible (but I’ll get to that later)! Here are some of my top tips and favourite things to see and eat in beautiful Vietnam.

Packing Essentials:

Before you jet off, make sure your luggage contains:

  • Long, lightweight clothes: Essential for visits to religious sites.
  • A jumper/jacket: It gets chilly in northern Vietnam between December and February.
  • Hand sanitiser/wipes: Useful for street food situations, but also handy for bathrooms on overnight trains.
  • Cash: Cards aren’t accepted for small payments, so grab some Vietnamese Dong (that’d be the name of the currency) and become an instant millionaire.
  • A Visa: Most nationalities need a visa for Vietnam; many are eligible for an easy e-visa.

Swipe for hot shots

Here are my five most ’grammable spots in Vietnam:

1. Kayaking on Lan Ha Bay

Get an action shot amongst the limestone karsts and emerald waters.

2. Rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City

Shoot for the sky in Vietnam’s biggest city – the cocktails and the views are killer.

3. Lanterns in Hoi An:

Colourful lanterns light up the streets at night in this World Heritage-listed city.

4. Húc Bridge in Hanoi

A dramatic red bridge joins the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son Temple.

5. Train Street in Hanoi

Time it right for a pic of a train squeezing between the local homes and stores.

Pho pro

Feeling hungry? Consume these local delicacies while you’re there:

  • Bánh mì: Crunchy baguettes chock full of pork, pâté, and pickled veg – delicious.
  • Phở: An incredibly delicate flavour explosion in one bowl.
  • Nộm đu đủ: Vietnamese papaya salad is crunchy, zesty, and refreshing.
  • Egg coffee: You won’t find this sweet, meringue-like caffeine hit anywhere else!
  • Bia hơi: Frothy, fresh beer. Drink it on a tiny stool while motorbikes whiz by.

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Location: Ho Chi Minh City, image provided by Intrepid Travel

Parting words

Vietnamese people are super friendly and warm, but as with any country, you’re likely to meet a few locals that will try to scam you. Dodgy taxis are one of the main scams but you can book a transfer with Intrepid if you wanna keep your arrival stress-free.

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